The donor: Randy Pilon
The gift: $700,000
The cause: Sheridan College Institute of Technology
The reason: To develop a business school
When Randy Pilon was in high school in Mississauga, Ont., in the late 1970s, he didn't think much about what to do after graduating.
He had spent his summers selling shoes at a local shoe store and didn't really think about going to university. At the urging of a teacher, he went on a tour of Sheridan College, based in Oakville, Ont. He was impressed and enrolled in a marketing program. "I really enjoyed it," Mr. Pilon recalled. "It got my career started."
After graduating in 1982, he got a sales job at Bausch & Lomb. He rose through the ranks quickly and eventually became a vice-president of the company's Canadian operations. In 1998 he left and started his own company, Virox Technologies Inc., which specializes in disinfectants. Along the way, Mr. Pilon earned an MBA at the University of Toronto and took an executive program at Queen's University in Kingston. But he always had a special fondness for Sheridan.
"It always bothered me that people with college degrees were considered second-class citizens," he said. "They were made to feel inferior."
Mr. Pilon joined Sheridan's board of governors a couple of years ago and began working with business students. In 2009, he donated $200,000 to fund an annual conference to bring in major speakers to the college. "I just wanted students to have an opportunity to have a bunch of experts come in and open their eyes," he said. He has also donated $500,000 to help build a new business school.
Mr. Pilon plans to stay involved with Sheridan and expand its business program. His goal is that one day soon, when companies are looking for new recruits "they won't just visit universities, they'll come to Sheridan, too. Hopefully we're going to become the bull pen they can draw on to bring their talent in."